By Caroline Knox
Publication Date: May 1, 2002
ISBN# 9780970367273 (5.5x8.5 126pp, paperback)
“This poet is a wizard.” —James Merrill
A Beaker: New and Selected Poems shows Knox’s particular insistence on painterly abstraction, linguistic goofiness, and formal rigor. Freewheeling allusive artifacts, Knox’s poems are visually precise, at times ornate, and often humorous. Selected from the poems of her three previous collections, and including a full complement of new poems, A Beaker places Knox among the most important and original poets of her generation.
The hyper-literate Knox invites readers to “walk on the topos of previous perishing / literary remarks about mortality and mutability.” She uses “Nortony” as a pejorative and name-drops the Harvard rare-books library. She is often obscure, but her allusions are as much a sign of camaraderie as of scholarly pretension, her poems a pert crystallization impossible in more narrative poetry.
The New Yorker
[Knox’s] poems are a tour de force of torque. They are under pressure. They are pressure, applied to language, applied to what the mind can do, and the senses....Knox [has a] gift not only for incision and intellectual agility, but also emotional resonance. [That] this sort of vitality on all levels is characteristic of Knox’s poems reminds me of how bland so much of contemporary poetry is, preferring to sound one note maybe two shy ones, while she strikes up the band and leads the whole gang of instruments down the street.
Mary Ann Samyn, Electronic Poetry Review
Here’s a poet who takes herself with a grain of salt. This is vital, graceful silliness reminiscent of Marianne Moore or John Ashbery....Her poems invite the more intellectual emotions: bemusement, the breathlessness of newborn understanding. They’re a treat for anyone who likes to have her brainstrings tugged.
The Village Voice
One might argue that nothing is sacred in Caroline Knox’s work, but it would be truer to its spirit to say that everything is sacred here, and all are welcome. “The variety and multiplicity of the universe‚” Knox knows, “is its joy as well as its puzzlement.” Like the exquisitely engraved vessel in the title poem, A Beaker has been carefully executed by a master of the craft.
Rebecca Frank, Boston Review
Caroline Knox’s most recent publications are Hear Trains (Wave Books, forthcoming 2019), To Drink Boiled Snow (Wave Books, 2015), Nine Worthies (Wave Books, 2010), and Flemish (Wave Books, 2013). Quaker Guns (Wave Books, 2008) received a Recommended Reading Award 2009 from the Massachusetts Center for the Book. He Paves the Road with Iron Bars, published by Verse Press in 2004, won the Maurice English Award 2005 for a book by a poet over 50. A Beaker: New and Selected Poems appeared from Verse Press in 2002. Her previous books are The House Party and To Newfoundland (Georgia 1984, 1989), and Sleepers Wake (Timken 1994).
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